The Barbara Sinatra Children's Center has launched Fight Child Abuse, a $1.5 million campaign to combat child abuse though promotion of groundbreaking video content designed to help victims identify and report abuse.
The campaign — which will leverage partnerships with popular cultural influencers, a public service announcement and digital media advertising — comes in response to mounting evidence that suggests a spike in child abuse resulting from conditions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The campaign launch coincides with the release of a new version of the Center’s The Protect Yourself Rules, a video series designed to prevent abuse with modules customized for children in grades K through 3, grades 4 through 6 and now, teenagers. A series released previously, Stop the Sexual Secrets that Hurt, empowers and instructs teenagers who have suffered abuse but have failed to disclose it.
“There is clear evidence that the COVID-19 public health crisis has led to a destructive and tragic spike in child abuse,” said Director and CEO of the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center Foundation, John Thoresen. “The Fight Child Abuse campaign is a response to the urgency of the moment. The campaign builds on the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center’s more than 30 year legacy of preventing and treating child abuse, leveraging innovative tools and strategies to reach children and trusted adults where they are today — online.”
NBC’s Al Roker and Olympic champion Simone Biles, both long-time advocates for child safety, lend their voices to public service announcements, videos that describe the heightened risk of child abuse amidst the current public health crisis. The public service announcements and the educational videos will be promoted on social media through a targeted digital advertising campaign designed to reach at-risk children, parents and other trusted adults. To view the public service announcements, visit the Fight Child Abuse YouTube channel here.
“As a survivor of abuse myself, the Fight Child Abuse campaign is personal to me,” said Ms. Biles. “I’m honored to lend my voice to help reach children across the country, especially during these uncertain and, for some, dangerous times. To any young person who has been or is being abused, know this: it’s not okay, it’s not your fault and if you can find the courage to speak up, help is out there.”
Popular TikTok content creator and media personality, Isabella Avila and American Ninja Warrior’s Flip Rodriguez bring the campaign’s mission to the platforms used the most by children and teens. Through their social channels, both open up about their personal stories to educate and advocate for millions of young people. With these unique influencer partnerships, the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center aims to reach new audiences through a diversified digital landscape via TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube.
“As a male survivor, I’m proud to be a part of the Fight Child Abuse campaign,” said Rodriguez. “Growing up in a sexual abuse household, it’s important that we create a space to talk about sexual abuse. Let’s Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable.”
“I grew up in foster care and felt that partnering with The Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center would be a great fit because of that. I want to bring awareness about the different types and signs of abuse and what resources kids who are going through it have available,” Avila shared. “With COVID-19 everyone is stuck inside and we don’t have much of an escape. This is okay for most people, but for some who are experiencing abuse, it could be a nightmare. Bringing awareness to this issue while it’s likely more prevalent than ever is a very important thing for me to use my platform for and spread the word about on social media.”
Due to COVID-19, reports of abuse are falling dramatically, even as the conditions that often lead to abuse have increased drastically. The Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center’s forensic services, conducted almost daily, have decreased significantly since schools have closed. Stress and fear within a household are harbingers of emotional, physical and sexual child abuse. With stay-at-home orders in place, many children have lost access to those who typically first report suspected abuse – their teachers, counselors, pediatricians, and even neighbors.
The Center’s programs and video content are developed by child advocates, therapists, and national scholars. Through lesson plans and animated videos, the series explores emotions surrounding abuse, how to come forward to a trusted adult and what happens in the immediate aftermath, in addition to outlining the positive implications from disclosure. Last year, The Protect Yourself Rules curriculum was adopted nationwide by the Boy Scouts of America.
To date, Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center educational videos have generated over 15.2 million views on YouTube and in total has reached an estimated 100 million children worldwide. The Center provides forensic services and child abuse counseling services to over 1000 children per year at its facility on the campus of Eisenhower Health in Rancho Mirage, California. All of the Center’s videos are produced in conjunction with Wonder Media and the Joshua Center for Child Sexual Abuse at the University of Washington.
To learn more about the program visit: FightChildAbuse.org.